Community to come together to remember drowning victims

Services to be held at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church

Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2000

Services for drowning victims Luann Lynn Spiech, 34, and her son Kelvin, 10, will be held Friday and Saturday in the Mendenhall Valley.

During Monday's holiday, Kelvin, a fifth-grader, ventured onto unstable pond ice near North Douglas Highway, and fell into the water. His mother followed to help him and a school friend. The friend swam to safety, but the cold, deep water claimed the lives of both Spiechs.

``There is an overwhelming amount of grief over this,'' said Laura Rorem, secretary of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church and wife of its pastor, the Rev. Larry Rorem. The Spiechs were parishioners since the early '90s.

At 7 p.m. Friday, an informal prayer gathering will be held at the church, 4212 Mendenhall Loop Road. Sharing of memories will be part of the service.

``Anyone who wants to come is welcome,'' said Rev. Rorem.

Child care will be available during the service.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the joint funeral service for the Spiechs will be held at the church. ``Children are welcome,'' Rev. Rorem said, ``but we have arranged for babysitting for young children at St. Brendan's'' Episcopal Church, across Mendenhall Loop Road.

St. Brendan's will manage the child care and provide a van to ferry kids back and forth across the busy highway, Rorem said.

Parking for the funeral will be provided jointly by Shepherd of the Valley, St. Brendan's and the Church of God, around the corner on Thunder Mountain Road.

Instead of flowers at the services, Jan Spiech, mother of Todd Spiech, Luann's husband, is requesting donations to a fund at Capital City Fire & Rescue. Donations should be sent to CCFR Medic One Fund, Capital City Fire & Rescue, 820 Glacier Ave., Juneau, 99801, Jan Spiech said.

``We also want to thank everyone for the incredible support we have received,'' Spiech said.

A free luncheon will follow the funeral, prepared at the Church of God because kitchen remodeling at Shepherd is incomplete.

On Sunday, grief counseling will continue for the youngest of the flock. ``We are dealing with the issue in various ways in our Sunday School,'' Rev. Rorem said, ``to help children process their grief.''

``People have really come together over this,'' said Bob Dye, principal of Harborview Elementary, where Kelvin Spiech was a student.

Harborview is coordinating several efforts, including a scholarship fund for the Spiechs' baby, Adam, a Big Brother Memory Book and a Mother Memory Book.

``The intent (of the scrapbooks) is to give them to Todd (Luann's husband), but the intent down the road is to provide something so Adam (13 months) can know his mother and big brother,'' Dye said.

Kelvin's classroom teacher, Patrick Moore, is coordinating the Big Brother Book. Harborview nurse Chris Erickson is coordinating the Mother Book.

In addition, another Harborview teacher, Linda Augustine, is coordinating food donations for Todd and Adam Spiech. All coordinators may be called at the school, 463-1875. Donations for the scholarship fund may be sent to the school, to the attention of counselor Michelle Schindler.

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